The Oregon Ducks may have struggled to stop Ohio State's powerful offense in the national championship game, but defensive lineman Arik Armstead showed multiple times during the beating why he's a high-level draft prospect.
The 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive end and tackle has remarkable quickness for a player his size, and his length and heavy hands give him an excellent foundation on which to become an outstanding player.
While there are some concerns regarding his polish, there's nothing that some hard work can't fix.
You can see how athletic and powerful Armstead is on this play. He's No. 9, the left defensive tackle on the play. Watch him swim past the guard, his hands and feet working in unison to leave the blocker thoroughly beaten. Not that one can expect a running back to block such a large rusher effectively, but he treats him like he's his kid brother.
His move off the snap as well as his violence in pursuit nearly result in a safety - only prevented by a deft escape move from the passer.
Armstead is using his hands (heavy as they are) reasonably well, although he still may need some polish. Watch him throw his arms into the tackle. The tackle looks like he just hit a wall. Armstead takes position of the edge, and quickly moves outside. All the tackle can do here is probably hold him to prevent the sack.
While his movement ability is probably the most outstanding trait Armstead possesses, one is left to wonder about his stamina and ability to recognize the play. He consistently appears to fire off the ball later than those around him, and some of that might be blamed on his lack of recognition of the play as it's happening.
Armstead does everything right but doesn't read the play after getting separation on the block. He swims inside as the ball carrier goes to the outside.
He doesn't have a consistent pass rushing move but shows the physical ability to succeed in this area. He knows how to stack blockers, bench pressing them naturally however he hasn't learned to look past the blocker to read the play and then shed blocks on a consistent basis.
There may be only a few players in this draft that have the potential to be special players. Armstead is one of them. You don't find guys with his size power and movement skill every day, and he just turned 21 in November.
Expect him to be a 5-technique defensive end, and after a year or two, expect him to be a very good one.